I am really angry right now, so if you don't want your Christmas cheer blighted, skip this post. If you go ahead and read it, don't be surprised if your mistletoe wilts and the glass ornaments on your tree spontaneously shatter. I just need to get this off my chest.
Members of the United Auto Workers work for the Big Three auto manufacturers -- General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. Of those three, two manufacturers, namely General Motors and Chrysler, have just been given a huge, enormous, unbelieveable amount of taxpayer money in order to keep the businesses, which have been stupidly, outlandishly mismanaged for years now, from tanking altogether. That mismanagement (gazillion dollar salaries and jet-setty lifestyles, stupid design and marketing decisions, oh, the list goes on and on...) has been one side of the tarnished coin that has led to this, but the other side of it has been the grasping greed of the auto workers' union.
So imagine my fury when I saw this article from an online ABC affiliate, WAPT.com, titled "Union Workers Want Loan, Not Bailout" and read:
"Union members said that they are not willing to give up anything for a bailout and said they shouldn't have to.
Union members said Tuesday that they feel that they're being treated unfairly. They argued that they're not to blame for the big three's problems and the auto industry should cut costs in other areas first before cutting pay and benefits."
When $2,000+ of every new car sold goes to pay pensions for retirees' penions and current workers' salaries and benefits, why shouldn't the UAW have to make some concessions? Why should they be able to continue on as usual with their inflated salaries and their stupendously generous benefits packages?
I'm not opposed to retirees keeping their pensions because they did their work and they paid into a system and our country was in a totally different place when those people were working.
But today's workers need to get a clue. And I can show them where to get one.
My husband works for a General Motors auto dealership. His pay right now is practically non-existent because cars aren't selling. When our health insurance kicked in last September, sales were beginning to dwindle as the country's financial news continued to worsen and it quickly became apparent that we couldn't afford to cover all four of us on the dealership's group plan. And I'd like to add that as far as group plans go, this one wasn't unreasonable -- it's just that health care is so mind-bogglingly expensive.
For the four of us, we were paying over $200 PER WEEK from my husband's paycheck. Obviously, there are few middle-class Americans who can take an $800-$1,000 per month hit to the wallet without feeling the pain. My husband and I wrestled with the decision to drop the health care altogether and realized quickly that that was not a reasonable solution. But we couldn't continue on the way we were going, so we chose to take the girls off the group plan and cancel all the dental and vision insurance. We now pay just over $100 PER WEEK for health insurance, and that covers only my husband and myself.
We've been talking to an agent with Health Plan One who is helping us sort out a private insurance plan for the girls that would run us about $72 per month, but the problem is, car sales are worse now than they were when we first started talking to this agent in October, and now we can't afford the $72 per month.
When I consider this, I feel that the current UAW members are selfish and disgusting. My husband sells the cars they manufacture, and without dealerships to move the product, all the factories could be emptied out and turned into bowling alleys or condos or paint-ball venues. The UAW needs to make some huge concessions with their current workers because I don't understand why the tax money that my husband pays to the government, which has just been used to bail out General Motors, should be used to pay for health insurance for GM workers WHEN MY OWN KIDS AREN'T EVEN COVERED.
I've just been listening to the FOX News program called "Ford on FOX" and I just heard that this gargantuan check the United States government has just written for the auto industry bailout doesn't even demand that the United Workers make any concessions at all. None. Zip.
Why don't they have to concede anything? Why? Why do they get to keep the $20+ per hour salaries and their golden full-coverage health insurance packages when OUR TAX MONEY is what's being used to fund those things? Why shouldn't they take a pay cut? Why shouldn't they be forced to understand that those days of the big salaries for hourly employees and the extravagant health insurance benefits are OVER?
Why do my children have to go without health insurance so that a bunch of selfish UAW members, who claim to not share any of the blame for the current mess (Idiots! Jerks!), can keep their children in braces and glasses and not have to worry about strep throat or whatever else comes along during these winter months of colds and flu because they know they can take their kids to the doctor and then to the pharmacy without racking up a bill that could conceivably be $150 or more?
It's hard to describe the disgust and loathing I feel for the United Auto Workers right now. Operating costs need to be cut and they are part of what's making operations so expensive. I don't claim to be an economist and I honestly don't know what's for the best -- federal bailout? bankruptcy and restructuring? -- for the US automobile industry, but I do know how my family lives every day and I do know what I've heard UAW members from Indianapolis and Kokomo saying on the local news and it sickens me to hear that they don't feel they should have to give up anything when the people who sell the cars they make are struggling to survive right now in our embattled economy.
I hope your kids enjoy the Christmas presents that federal bailout is helping to finance from taxpayer money, UAW members. My kids are having a really lean Christmas as a result of your years-long policy of no concessions, none of the time. Enjoy your month's vacation at 80% of your regular salaries while my husband continues working seventy hours a week, sitting at an empty dealership hoping for a customer to walk through the door. If we have trouble paying our electric or gas bills over the winter, I'm sure some of you will be willing to help us out in the same way we helped you, right?
No, I didn't really think so.
Here's another article on the subject: Automakers Forced to Pay 85- to 95-Percent of Wages to Union Members Who Are Not Working (CNS News)